Mr. Mark Baer
Mr. Baer believes that lawyers would generally serve their clients more effectively if they utilized a non-adversarial counseling and problem-solving approach before taking an adversarial approach, especially when families are involved. This is in accordance the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers' Bounds of Advocacy, which was released in 2000 for the purpose of discouraging lawyers from zealously advocating when families are involved, and encouraging them to utilize a counseling and problem-solving approach. That document referred to the lawyer taking this approach as “a counselor” and called this approach “constructive” for the welfare of families and society’s preservation. It also made clear that lawyers should be familiar with non-adversarial processes and approaches for resolving family law matters, such as mediation. And, most importantly, it stated, “At its best, matrimonial law should result in disputes being resolved fairly for all parties, including children.”
The editorial staff for the Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers specifically requested that Mr. Baer submit an article for publication its issue on Bias that was published in May 2020 because they already considered him an expert who focuses on bias in the courts and the legal profession. Mr. Baer's article The Amplification of Bias in Family Law and Its Impact was included in that publication. The article addresses bias within the field of family law and its impact, specifically the biases harbored by all those involved in family law, such as the clients, attorneys, experts, mediators, and judges. It explains that the reason why the Bounds of Advocacy never accomplished its goal relate to those unchecked biases.
For many years now, Mr. Baer has limited his practice to the mediation process, working almost exclusively as a mediator, because mediation (at least his style of mediation) involves counseling and problem-solving. For the reasons stated in his article, he came to the realization that adversarial processes and approaches feed into people's biases, whereas experienced, well-trained and well-skilled mediators tend to challenge those biases, making the process and approach more "constructive for the welfare of families and society's preservation." As explained in that article, regardless of what lawyers may believe, they do not tend to be sufficiently familiar with non-adversarial processes and approaches for resolving family law matters, such as mediation. And, the beginning impacts the end. When separations and divorces are involved, the beginning is the beginning of the process of separating and divorcing – not the end of the romantic relationship, assuming one ever actually existed. First moves and decisions greatly impact whether the level of conflict, communication, and trust increases or decreases, among many other things. Therefore, the process and approach taken at the outset of the case significantly impacts how future events unfold.
Since a great deal of conflict stems from people's unchecked biases, Mr. Baer's deep and conceptual understanding of biases, their causes, their impact, and what can be done to reduce and otherwise keep them in check is immensely helpful in his work as a mediator, conflict resolution consultant and peacemaker.
Mr. Baer's writings on bias, conflict resolution, and emotional intelligence have been published primarily by the Huffington Post and Psychology Today and have been widely cited. He is also a frequent presenter at professional meetings and teaches a course on implicit bias to professionals working in conflict resolution: mediators, conflict and dispute resolution practitioners, human resource professionals and peace-builders.
In 2017, Mr. Baer was elected a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation in recognition of exemplary dedication to highest principles of the legal profession, commitment to the welfare of society, and support for the ideals, objectives and work of the American Bar Foundation. Fellows are considered the academics and scholars within the profession. On September 17, 2015, Ruth Bader Ginsburg sent the Foundation a letter stating as follows: "Long a Fellow, and for several years a member of the ABA Foundation's Executive Committee, I appreciate the value of the enterprise, and consider the Foundation the ABA's most laudable undertaking."